$70,000 to help South Knoxville businesses

6:59 PM, Apr 21, 2013   |    comments
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Construction on Henley Street Bridge is projected to be done in the end of February 2014.

South Knoxville business owners are responding after finding out $70,000 will be pumped into the area.

The state's budget includes a $30,000 economic development grant to the Legacy Parks Foundation.

Knoxville and Knox County pledged $20,000 each.

The money will be used to help improve business south of the Tennessee River, which has struggled since the Henley Street Bridge closed more than two years ago.

Construction closed off the main entrance to Chapman Highway.

"It's been difficult on the store. We've had staff cuts. We make due. Some of the stuff that's helped is the [Knox] Cash Mob," said Paul Yeary, who has worked at Disc Exchange on Chapman Highway for more than 20 years.

In total, $70,000 will go to the Legacy Parks Foundation.

Knoxville Communications Manager Jesse Mayshark said the grants needed to go through a non-profit organization.

However, Mayshark said the Urban Wilderness Arts and Trade District (composed of businesses South of the River) will determine how best to use the money.

That may mean marketing, rebranding, or other events that bring attention to the area.

"I think signage is great and we appreciate everything the city and county are doing for us but I think the bridge opening up would be the best fix for the problem," Yeary said.

Executive Inn Owner Yipin Bhagat said his business depends on the highway.

"Most of the business in the motel is in the evening, later part of the day. There is no traffic in the evening over here on Chapman Highway," Bhagat said.

Bhagat said he and other business owners hoped for property tax breaks or sales tax breaks.

Construction on Henley Street Bridge is projected to be done in the end of February 2014.

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